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L-M Student Services Dept. Offers Tips for Beating Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be a stressful time. Schedules are out of sync, money can be a bit tighter, etc.

Sweating, increased heart rate, stomach or headache are some examples of ways our bodies tell us we are feeling stressed. Our bodies are hard-wired to physically respond to situations we see or are exposed to. It’s a protective mechanism, allowing us to outrun predators or fight off attackers. When we are exposed to stress in small doses and have the ability to respond appropriately, our body undergoes a secondary process when the danger recedes. We need to go into a physical period of recovery to get back to a normal, functional state.

When stress is excessive, prolonged, unpredictable, or we don’t have the means to process or understand what is happening to us, our physiological stress response may not shut down and our bodies may not be allowed to recover. This level of stress can overwhelm our bodies and become toxic. Toxic stress is defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics as stress that is excessive or prolonged in the absence of buffering protection, specifically in the absence of healthy relationships.

According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, while moderate, short-lived stress can promote growth, toxic stress weakens the architecture of the developing brain. Toxic stress can occur when a child experiences, strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity without adequate adult support. The prolonged activation of the stress response system can disrupt brain development and other organ systems and take a cumulative toll on a person’s physical and mental health for a lifetime.
Feel free to watch this very brief video on how toxic stress affects development;

Linn-Mar would like to give each of you some helpful ideas and tips to help our families within the next few months. If you do have concerns about your child handling stress, please know that we are here for you. Please contact the counselor in your child’s school or feel free to reach out to members of Linn-Mar’s Student Assistance Program.

There is a lot to be said about positive thinking and positive affirmations. Because the brain reacts to thoughts, positive thoughts and affirmations tell the brain to prepare for the positive thoughts being said. Creating one to two encouraging sentences with the intent to repeat them over and over, will instruct your brain to react in a positive way. Positive affirmations can be created as a family or individually.

Some examples of positive affirmations are:
I never give up.
I commit to learning new things.
I got this.
I am valued.
I am loving and lovable.
I will make healthy choices.

To take it one step further, here are some activity ideas to use with positive affirmations;
1. Use this printable as a gratitude tree to write things as a family you are grateful for. This can also be used to write positive affirmations about family members. Great for all ages!

2. Use this printable to make strength shields and write positive affirmations about yourself on the shield. Example: I am strong. I am beautiful. I am confident. I am worthy. I am loved. Then, you can hang this in a room, locker, by your bathroom mirror, etc. and choose to say one to yourself in the morning and before bed.

For more information on this topic, this link shares ideas on how to decrease your child’s stress and things to look for which is spelled out for children elementary age to college.

In conclusion, take care of you! You will not be able to help others, if you are not taking care of yourself.
You got this!